Dr. Lisandro Claudio of the DLSU Literature Department won the George McTurnan Kahin Book award for his book Liberalism and Postcolony: Thinking the State in 20th Century Philippines.
According to the website of the Association for Asian Studies, the George McTurnan Kahin Book award is awarded to scholars of Southeast Asian studies who have written exceptional scholarly work tackling topics concerning the region.
The youngest recipient
“I knew I was nominated for the award, but I thought it was kind of [a] long shot….disbelief was the first reaction,” Claudio shared in an interview with The LaSallian.
Much of that surprise, the literature professor elaborated, was from the fact that he had received the award despite his young age. As he explained, “I thought I was too young to get that award; that award usually…the previous recipients of that award have been people in their 60s and 70s.”
At 34, Claudio currently holds the distinction of being the youngest recipient of the book award.
Writing for an audience
When asked what drove him to pursue his work, Claudio emphasized that he wrote the book in order to spur discussions on liberalism in the country. “The main argument I am making there is that liberalism is not external to our experience as Filipinos, but in many ways the Philippine state was built on the bedrock of liberalism and of liberal thought,” he argued.
He also advised young writers to write for an audience and to speak their minds about issues affecting the country, adding, “If you write with a kind of sincerity, write something because there is a particular line of thought that [you may want] to introduce. There is a particular conversation I want to have with a specific community—in my case, Filipinos.”
History of liberalism
Claudio’s award-winning work examines the history of 20th century Philippine liberalism through the lives of four historical figures—Camilo Osias, Salvador Araneta, Carlos P. Romulo, and Salvador Lopez—and how it shaped democracy in the country today.
The book was a product of two years of work during Claudio’s stay in Japan and was published in 2017 with the support of the National University of Singapore Press, Ateneo de Manila University Press, and the Kyoto University Press.